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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In Another Universe, an open letter to Addison Scott

Dear Addison,

Welcome to the ranks of the despised, the few, the plagiarists. Rather, I shouldn't be welcoming you to the group, because you've been a thief since the first moment you clicked 'paste'.

We all don't need to tell you how incredibly dirty your actions were. You knew what you were doing, hence the boring covers you fabricated (or had fabricated for you), and the gender switches you pulled in order to canvas--poorly--what you were doing.

What I'd like to address is how you made those authors feel when they saw their titles under your name.

I know two of these authors personally. One is a very close friend, and another is an acquaintance that I follow and talk to once in a while. Both of them are amazing. They put the blood, sweat and tears into their books that I, and the rest of us in the book world, know you couldn't possibly put in.

What I wanted to do by writing this was less to address your actions, or even condemn them, it was to put you directly into their shoes.

You see, I'm a believer of the Multiverse Theory. Just in case you don't know (or can't deduce from the context) what that means, I'll insert Wikipedia's definition of it (<--- that's what's called attribution by the way). 'The multiverse is a hypothetical set of infinite or finite possible universes that together comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as physical laws and constants that describe them.'

I firmly believe, that in another universe, you're the one who had your original work stolen. You are the one who put in the hours, rewrote your book, cried over heartbreaking plots, felt the tug on your heartstrings as your characters lost loved ones or grew as people. You are the one now sitting in front of your computer screen, viciously fighting a battle you shouldn't have to fight to make sure people know that your work is yours. You are the one so incensed that you're shaking. You're the one bereft of words when e-tailers scramble to figure out how this happened, and leave you with more questions than answers.

But in this other universe, you're also the one surrounded by warmth and militant support of an Indie community that welcomes you with open arms, that respects you and loves you for all the hard work you've done. In this other universe, you're going to pick yourself up and do what's right for you and for your books. In this other universe, you understand that books aren't just books, they're portals into your imagination. They're surgically removed parts of your soul that have been converted into paper and ink. Other times, these pieces don't go quietly, they have to be ripped out of you with the force of a hurricane. If you're one of the half-gifted writers, it's an intense hunger that wrings the words out of you, because without writing there can be no sanity.

Unfortunately for you--and us--we live in this universe, in one where you can't possibly comprehend what it's like to actually write a book, to actually be truly creative.

That's the first reason I pity you, Addison (which I'm sure isn't even really your name).

The second reason I pity you, is because there's a glimmer of a chance that you might have had dreams once of becoming a writer, perhaps a bestseller. We all start out with those virgin thoughts. Then hard, cold reality sets in, and we realize we have to sell our skin just to get the least bit of notoriety. I'm sure you wake up every day, you look in the mirror, and you wonder where those dreams went. You wonder how you got to the point of hating your own writing so much that you figured the only way to succeed was to burgle.

Everyone else will recover. There might be litigation. People will rally support. E-tailers will remove your false listings. You'll continue to look in the mirror and feel the emptiness of being a thief, to never truly feel the honesty of writing your own story, one you own without shame. Everyone else will grow and become stronger from this experience, while you learn nothing, likely feel nothing, and remain stagnant.

The sad part is, in the end, you'll likely trash this pen name, create a new one, and keep on stealing.

And if that is your decision, I hope we find you again. I hope we destroy you again. I hope we can make you feel the smallest sliver of remorse for the pain you've put those authors through.

I hope justice is served.

- V

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Important announcement!


I've had to postpone When She Comes Undone's release because I was so sick that I fell behind in writing. I'm so very sorry about this, but I promise I will do my best to have it out on the 30th. I never anticipated getting sick for most of October. I was bedridden for most of it. I originally thought since it was a big book, I would split it, but I didn't want to leave you guys on a cliffhanger and make you wait for the second book. It seemed like a good idea, but ultimately it didn't feel right. I hope when you open it on the 30th, you'll feel like it was worth the wait. Thank you so so much for your patience and understanding. Now back to work for me!!! :) <3 you all!

If you signed up for events related to the release, there should be information coming along for that soon. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Hardest Part of Being a Writer

Writing is not the hardest part of being a writer. One of the hardest parts is deceiving your characters, sending them, knowingly, into traps, and forcing them to deal with the terrible shit in life. Sometimes, it's in the knowing--that things will turn out badly in the end, but writing it anyway.

Though they're literally made of ink, we breathe life into characters, and before we know it, before we can stop it from happening, they become real. We see them when we close our eyes. Their pain is our pain; their joy is our joy. In this way, writing is the most wonderful way of going mad...

Friday, September 4, 2015

COVER REVEAL: When She Comes Undone

Chloe Dawson learned early that life wasn't easy. If it were, her parents never would have split up, leaving her to deal with the fallout at eight years old. If it were, her mother's vice wouldn't have driven a wedge between them. Though she comes to face trials most people only confront in their nightmares, she realizes she can't wake up from her life. Instead, she looks her problems in the eye, afraid yet standing her ground.

But even the strongest need rescuing …

Just when she feels her head dipping below the surface, Caleb Holt appears in her life. Unlike Chloe, he's run far from his past, into the arms of an uncertain future. At the request of a dying man, he decides to stop running and fulfill a promise—one which forbids him from interacting with Chloe and forces him to remain her secret benefactor.

Keeping out of sight, he watches with his eyes, but soon discovers that his heart has been just as vigilant. Aggressive is his middle name, but his bond keeps him silent at a distance. When she needs help, he reaches out of hiding to touch her life, only to step back before she can see him.

However opportunity presents itself, and he finds he can't resist answering its call. What will happen when the barrier between them drops and he's finally allowed to touch where once he could only look?

What will happen when Chloe accepts an offer that no one in her desperate position would refuse, even when it pushes her boundaries?

What will happen when she comes undone?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cop A Squat With Me

Let's get in close and whisper about some interesting patterns among the humans in our lives. Or at least some of the ones in my life. And, before I get into this, this is not directed at any one person. In fact, it's not directed at anybody, just at ... life? I think this might come off as a rant, but I can't say it's 100% a rant. Maybe it's more like a fable?

Part of my journey from childhood to adulthood was realizing I'm one of those keep-able, back-burner friends.

Know how I know this? Because the following situation happens to me repeatedly:

I make a friend, we're close for a while, they find a shiny "new" friend to hang out with, I often get left out (not a big deal because my friends are not my life and I have other things to occupy me), then that new friend treats the person like shit and they come running back to me.

Now, don't jump to conclusions about what I'm saying. I'm not one of those people you have to look out for when choosing a friend / supporter / associate.

When it comes to spreading your friendship wings, I am not a flight risk. (And that is officially the cheesiest pun I've put on this blog.) Why am I not a risky person to keep around?
1) I don't hold grudges and I'm not *angry*. When this happens, I record it in my brain and try to analyze the reasons for why. I'm an observer and I see more by being quiet and watching.
2) I'm glad to be there for my friends and love them the way they deserve to be loved. This means, even if you do things most people would consider offensive (for example: alienating me for a short period) I would not find those things deal-breakers. I'm aware the people have their own lives outside of me. I know that I'm not the top-most priority in my friends' lives and I don't expect to be. I am *quite* low maintenance.
3) I do everything I damn well can for my friends. On top of that, I don't shit-talk about or intentionally put my friends down. I encourage, because that's what friends are for. I may be blunt and tell someone exactly what I think, if asked, but I will do it kindly and calmly. I do not act in anger, because that's how you kill a relationship damn fast. Plus, it takes me a LOT to make me mad.
NOTE: By the way, this is not me trying to convince you I'm "good" or whatever, this is me stating facts about myself to illustrate what has led me up to my latest conclusion.

Nessa, get to the point! What does all this rambling mean!?
The point of observing is to do something with the data.

Has my experience changed how I handle friendships?
I think how I handled things ten years ago and how I handle them now are remarkably different. I'm far less naive. I don't feel like anyone owes me anything, including time, love or effort. Do I give it? Yes. But, do I expect it? No.

What's the difference between naive and generous?
As I said, I'm a generous person (I live my life with that purpose and I say that in the most humble way possible. I am not seeking praise.), BUT I'm not a sap. I'll give, but I won't kill myself for another person. What do I sacrifice? Definitely creativity, always time, and sometimes even money. Then again, they say time is money. So, I guess those last two go hand-in-hand.

I think naivety comes with the expectation that you'll always get what you put in. You won't. Statistically, you just won't. Hard truth, but truth nonetheless.

What can be taken away from this is ...
I'm that back-burner, reliable friend that won't shit on you or bitch at you for not texting me every other hour (or day for that matter). I'm the one that values your time, supports you, is there during those late-night talks, offers advice and help when I can, gives you things I make for free (products of my blood, sweat, tears and creativity). Why? Because I know how valuable friendship is and I try to make the most of every single one

I think some people are bad at friends. They're not actually bad people. They're fine people, but they simply don't know how to be a good friend. They don't know how to love or support. They weren't taught how when growing up. They weren't taught to listen instead of just hear. They weren't taught to advise without malice or judgement. They weren't taught how to be objective and handle things with both logic and emotions in mind.

That being said, I know that some people are going to wander and think their new "shiny" friend is their best friend, but in reality, after that "new friend smell" wears off, it's people in your life that really care about you, people like me, that will be there, and won't even hold it over your head that you neglected them.

I guess the teeny-tiny moral of this post is that you should treat all of your friends with care. Some are not as understanding as I am and would get upset and drift away. I'm the kind that will keep asking you about your day...even on days when Facebook says "seen" and there's no answer for two days.

I'm the one that will leave the light on for you.

And when some of those new friends crap on you, I'll be in my little corner watching the drama unfold, helping you through it, holding out the tissues to catch your tears, and drinking my tea.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why I Decided to Write

"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take."

I've heard this quote several times in various forms all over the Internet and in books. There are lots of things that happened in my mind when I first read it.

Regret is inherently a deep sadness about missed chances, and not only that, but acknowledging that the time for repairing the thing you regret--or in this chance taking the chance--is gone. It means you accept the loss of that thing. Regret is much deeper than sadness. It's a multi-layer, multi-level state of mind.

My grandfather never wrote his memoirs, though he had one of the most fascinating life stories I've ever heard. As he lay on his death bed, passing away slowly and painfully from aggressive Melanoma, I remember looking at him and thinking, "I wonder if there was anything in his life that he wished he could do and didn't." I didn't have the chance to ask him.

I was afraid to be like him, to be lying on my deathbed and wondering where the hours and days went, where those healthy moments when I could have done something productive and fulfilling went.

When he passed, I felt compelled to write. I always had been a creative person, and it made even more sense after seeing him pass, to pick up a pen and just ... go. I started writing in composition books with whatever writing utensil I could find. I reveled in the sound of pencil lead scraping paper, of stories unfolding, of villains giving up pieces of themselves for extreme passions, of heroes standing up and fighting corrupted dreams. Through rescuing my characters from plain and therefore terrible fates, I saved myself.

This book I'm writing is a product of realizing that life is short, and there is NO time to be storing up ideas for one day. One day is TODAY. My hands work. My mind works. My imagination is still fresh and still active. NOW is the time to pick up the pen and write.

It's time for any of you out there to pick up the pen and write.

Don't allow yourself the chance of waking up one day and regretting the chance you didn't take.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Remember that time I tried to do a writing prompt to keep myself fresh and I ended up writing a massive crazy story? Here's an excerpt!

This is a prompt I *TRIED* to write as just a prompt. This is just an excerpt of the 5,000-word+ monstrosity it turned out to be! I guess I can't do writing prompts!

Prompt/Starter Sentence: "I wasn't planning on this. Falling in love with you was the last thing I wanted, because I knew our time would have to come to an end. Yet, here I am, begging you not to turn the page."

'I wasn't planning on this. Falling in love with you was the last thing I wanted, because I knew our time would have to come to an end. Yet, here I am, begging you not to turn the page. If you know better, you'll just throw this letter away.'

I swallowed hard and stared down at the page. For years I'd left the envelope unopened, and now it was too late to do anything about its contents. Aaron was gone and all I could do was feel like an idiot for not hearing him out.

Tears slipped down my cheek as I turned the page.

'I knew you wouldn't listen.' He'd drawn a smiley face beside that sentence. I laughed out loud, but that smile faded as soon as I read the next paragraph.

'You've always marched to the beat of your own drum. You're the most amazing woman I've ever met, Sydney. From the very first time I met you, I knew you would be the one for me. When you started dating Hendrix, I thought I would die inside. Instead, I stuck by you, watching and waiting. The wound was opened fresh every time I saw you guys kiss from across the lunch room, but I cauterized that rip in my heart with the fact that I loved you more than he could have ever loved you. I loved you more than myself. I'll love you that way until the day I die.

Take care of yourself.'

By now, I was a mess. I leaned against the wall and slid down to the floor. It was him. It was always him, and now he was gone.

For a few minutes I did nothing but cry. He'd been in love with me all along, and I'd let him go. My memory called up images of the last time we'd seen each other.

He'd jogged four miles from his house to mine—in the rain. By the time he got there, he was soaked. I opened the door and he just stood there like he expected me to do something. After Hendrix had put on that display with Jessica at the dance, he'd immediately left. I hadn't understood it then.

“Syd … ” he whispered breathlessly.

“Why are you all wet? Come inside!” I demanded, ushering him in. “Did you get locked out of your house again?”

I ran to grab a towel from the linen closet. When I got back, he was rubbing the rain from his eyes—or was it something else?

“Here, dry yourself off.” I handed him the towel and he seemed to be at a loss for words as he received it. I crossed my arms and waited as he swept the terrycloth over his arms. His gray shirt was wet and stuck to his body. I hadn't noticed just how much he'd filled out in the past few years. For some reason it made me blush. “Do you want some cocoa?”

He silently nodded and we went into the kitchen. As usual, Boca was asleep on his back in the cat's bed kicking the air as he chased something in his dreams.

Aaron stared off into space as I made the cocoa.

“You never answered my question. Why'd you run here through the rain? Couldn't you have waited till your mom got home so she could drive you?”

“No. I couldn't.” His eyes dropped to the counter.

“What's wrong? You're quiet.” The milk in the pot began to boil rapidly and I turned down the heat. I stirred the cocoa powder into the milk as it grew frothy and creamy.

“You can't stay with Hendrix.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. “That thing with Jessica was an accident. He thought she was me.”

“That's what he wants you to believe.”

I turned to face him. “So what is the truth, Aaron? He wanted me and the entire senior class to see him kiss another girl?” I shook my head. “Are you sure that's not what you want me to believe?”

“Why would I lie? I'm your best friend!” he protested.

“Are you?” I leaned on the counter. “Hendrix has been with me through some pretty crazy stuff too, you know?”

Aaron frowned. “How can you compare me to him?”

“I'm not. I'm just making a point. You aren't the only guy in my life.” In an attempt to halt the conversation, I walked to the cabinet above our coffee station and pulled down two mugs.

The stool he was sitting on at the breakfast table screeched across the tile floor as he stood up. “The truth is … ” He trailed off but I could tell there was an intense weight on his shoulders and those words might have set him free of it.

I poured the chocolate into our cups, crossed the kitchen and handed him one. He took it reluctantly and looked down into the swirling hot liquid.

“You're worried for no reason. Now drink y—”

“Stop it,” he mumbled. “Stop brushing me aside.”

His eyes met mine and I couldn't tear them away. Heat crept into my cheeks as I realized just how close we were standing to each other. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. Pinpricks of electricity lit up under my skin. He disarmed me by bringing his hand up and gently touching my lips with his fingers. I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of feelings that followed the intimate gesture.

“What did you come here to say?” I said softly.

“Just take care of yourself, Syd.” His eyes were red, and I thought he might be fighting back tears, but I knew it could have just as easily been remnants of rain irritating them.

The gravity of his words sunk in. “What do you mean? Where are you going?”

“I'm joining the army. I'm leaving next week for basic.”

“The army!? You never told me you were joining the army!” My fingers grew so weak around my hot mug that I finally had to set it down.

He turned away from me in a way he never had before, in either the physical or emotional sense. I could feel that something had broken between us. The Aaron I used to know wouldn't have hidden such a big life decision from me. Had we drifted that far apart?

“It's the right thing to do. My aunt can't afford to send me to college and my grades have never been good.”

“But you'll be leaving Greenleaf … and next week? What about graduation?”

“I've already discussed this with the principle and my teachers. I took my exams early. They're going to mail my aunt my diploma.”

“So, that's why you were late to the dance.” Tears collected in my eyes.

“Saturday was the only day they'd let me take them all.” He sniffed. “I didn't want to tell you like this.”

“I can't believe you hid this from me.”

“Maybe this is what happens when you get older. We're way past fourth grade now. Secrets aren't free anymore. They come with a price.”

“What would I have had to pay to get this one?”

“I have to go, Syd. I can't … I just can't watch you … with him …”

“What?” I narrowed my eyes at him. “What are you talking about?”

“It's too late now. It's all too late.” He set his cup down. “Thanks for the cocoa.” His quick steps took him out of the kitchen and down the hall.

“No,” I whispered to myself. A moment passed before I realized he was going forever. He was walking out of my life and if I didn't stop him, he'd be gone. “Aaron!” I ran after him and caught him before he got to the front door. “Don't go. Stay until the rain stops. Let's talk.” I spun him around. “I'm sorry. Look, I'll make us some dinner and when my mom gets home from work, we can go out for icecream just like we used to.” I smiled into his eyes.

“There's no time left, Syd. Things can't be like old times again.” He brushed his knuckles against my cheek. “Goodbye.”

He was gone just like that.

Two years later, on my birthday, I received the yellow envelope in the mail, but I refused to open it. I was mad at him for abandoning me. He'd been right about Hendrix, and yet I'd never believed him.

I realized it was my fault our relationship had shattered.

Though I hadn't opened the letter, I was happy to get it. It meant he was alive and safe. But three years later, when Aaron's aunt showed up on my doorstep with tears in her eyes and a letter in her hand, I knew.

I knew he was gone.

The strangeness of the circumstances had been off-putting. He hadn't been reported as having died in action. He'd been reported as missing after his chopper had gone down off the coast of Qatar.

For six months I talked to his aunt three or four times a week. There was never any news.

I slowly gave up hope of seeing him again. I began to believe he was dead.

One day, it just kind of clicked for me. He was really gone. They would never find him. He was at the bottom of the sea and nobody could change that, not even me.

That's when I opened his letter and found out the weight I'd sent him away with was that he'd been in love with me for years. I'd virtually spat in his face the last time I'd seen him, and all over some jerk who never truly loved or cared about me.

'Aaron. I loved you, too,' I thought as I wept in my bedroom floor.

Of course I had. Why else would I have tried to stop him from leaving?

In my youth and stupidity, I'd let go of the one man who would have stayed by my side forever, and there was no way to get him back.

What do you think, guys? Worth pursuing? Let me know on any of my social media accounts! Much love to you all! Hope you have a fantastic weekend!